The National Enterprise Town Awards: Drogheda

We are profiling all the towns to enter this year’s National Enterprise Town Awards. Today we are looking at Drogheda in Co Louth.

Drogheda is Ireland’s largest town with a population of 40,956, up 6.2pc since 2011. It is located in Co Louth on the eastern seaboard, twenty-five minutes north of Dublin Airport.

Drogheda’s name derives from the Irish ‘Droichead Átha’, meaning bridge of the ford. The Anglo-Normans founded Drogheda originally as two separate towns on either side of the river in the late 12th century. Drogheda in Meath was founded by Hugh De Lacy. On the northern bank Drogheda in Louth was established by Bertram De Verdon.

Although they immediately bordered one another, the two towns were in different church dioceses, had separate corporations, taxes, tariffs and landing charges. This last difference in particular was to lead to intense rivalry and even bloodshed as each town sought to undercut the other in order to gain a greater share of maritime trade.

Drogheda has a strong enterprise heritage due to its location on the Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor, and its bustling port at the mouth of the River Boyne which traverses the town including the Boyne Boardwalk.

Drogheda’s traditional industrial base has declined, but the town has fought back by encouraging indigenous enterprise. It is a thriving town with generations of families combined with a large number of new commuters.

The Mill Enterprise Hub, was opened in 2014 and was funded by Louth County Council, Enterprise Ireland and the Drogheda Chamber to develop enterprise in the town. Its initial success resulted in the opening of a second phase of The Mill in December 2017. This is now fully occupied with a mixture of start-ups and emerging FDI’s.

US Company, Yapstone, opened an office at The Mill in 2014, and with the support of local agencies, it now employs 130 people in Drogheda and recently announced 200 additional jobs. The Mill encourages enterprise by linking entrepreneurs and businesses to supports available.

One of Drogheda’s primary objectives in coming years is to encourage current commuters to either start a local business or work locally for the many indigenous or FDI companies in the town as it is critical that they capitalise on the expertise of the highly skilled local residents.

The Mill and partners work on numerous programmes including Refresh Boyne Digital talks, founding TedXDrogheda, M1 Skillnet, the Illuminate Female Entrepreneurship programme with DCU, Drogheda Young Innovators schools programme, and a Fintech CoderDojo.

Drogheda’s business community worked tirelessly with local community groups and Louth County Council to successfully apply to host the 2018 and 2019 Fleadh Cheoil. The 2018 Fleadh was the largest in its history with visitor numbers of circa 450,000 during the week. The decision to apply for the Fleadh was emanated from the 2012 ‘Local Heroes – Drogheda fights back’ Initiative by the business and voluntary sectors as part of the RTE programme.

Drogheda Chamber and The Mill has partnered with Dundalk Chamber and Oriel Hub to develop the M1 Corridor, an initiative that highlights the benefits and advantages of establishing a business in the wider region.

In June 2019, Failte Ireland announced a €1.5 million Puca festival in partnership with Louth and Meath County Councils that aims to position Ireland internationally as the home of Halloween. Drogheda will play a key role in the festivities.

Drogheda was recently designated as a Regional Growth Centre in the Government’s Project 2020 to 2040 Plan. It highlights the promotion of Drogheda as a regional growth centre supported by a number of key towns and focuses on improving local quality of life to attract investment. Drogheda’s new designation status will ensure that it becomes a self-sustainable regional driver of growth as they capitalise on the expanding town’s strengths along the M1 Economic Corridor.

Written by Stephen Larkin

Published: 3 October, 2019